Aged Well
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Beaumont had two pioneers who aged well

By W. T. Block

Reprinted from Beaumont Enterprise, Saturday March 13, 1999.

NEDERLAND—At a time (1850-1880) when many considered Beaumont’s climate as unhealthy, two pioneers chalked up an excess of years here, when life expectancy was only 35 years. Both are buried here, although neither lived in the area more than 20 years.

Jean Baptiste Chaison, born in Halifax, Acadia (N. S.) on Aug. 7, 1745, was deported to France by the British following their capture of the island. He came to the American colonies with the Marquis de Lafayette, and he fought with Gen. George Washington in several battles, including Brandywine, Germantown and under Gen. Greene at Eutaw Springs, S. C., where he received a minor wound. Chaison was present at Yorktown when Lord Cornwallis surrendered.

Chaison came to Beaumont about 1840 to live with his youngest son. He was enumerated as being age 105 in Beaumont’s 1850 census.

Fr. P. A. Parisot took Confession from Chaison in 1853, and noted that the old Revolutionary veteran shouted loudly because of his deafness. Chaison died at Beaumont on July 20, 1854, and a long biography of him survives in Texas State Times of Dec. 29, 1855.

The other centenarian, Robert Kidd, was born near Lexington, Va. on Aug. 10, 1774, but moved to Greensboro, N. C. at an early age. British soldiers marched across his father’s farm en route to the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, N. C.

A tobacco farmer during his early life, Kidd’s only marriage was to Rebecca Hitchcock, when Kidd was age 64 and his wife was only 26. They became the parents of 7 children.

Robert Kidd moved his family to Jefferson County in 1849, and he raised cotton variously on Sabine Lake, in Midcounty, and at Beaumont until he moved to Sealy, Texas in 1868.

At age 99, Kidd raised 200 bushels of corn and ginned a 500-pound bale of cotton, but he retired due to being age 100 in 1874. In 1881, a Rev. Buckingham (Galv. Daily News, Mar. 28, 1881) interviewed Kidd when the latter was age 107. He reported that Kidd’s "...teeth are in a remarkable state..., appetite good, digestive organs all right..."

On Sept. 25, 1888, the same newspaper reported that Robert Kidd, at age 114, would be the oldest voter in the United States in 1888. Quoting Beaumont Advertiser, the article added:

"...Texas will furnish in 1888 the oldest voter in the United States in the person of Robert Kidd, father of G. W. Kidd, businessman of Beaumont. Mr. Kidd is now in the 115th year of his life, and he is, considering his remarkable age, still quite active and energetic..."

In 1890, at age 116, Robert Kidd was also the oldest person enumerated in the U. S. census of that year. He fell and fractured his hip on his birthday, and he died 3 months later on Nov. 12, 1890. He is buried in the family plot in Magnolia Cemetery.

Kidd’s oldest son, Confederate Sgt. Henry Kidd, was killed at the Battle of Peachtree Creek, Ga. in 1864. His youngest sons, George W. and F. M. Kidd, were discharged from the Confederate Army and became Beaumont businessmen. His son-in-law, Columbus Caswell, owned Eagle Sawmill and was mayor of Beaumont when he died in 1883.

Kidd’s tall tombstone, which is still standing, shows his age as being "116 years, 3 mos., and 2 days."

W. T. Block of Nederland is a historian and author. His website is http://block.dynip.com/wtblockjr/ This database is very large (350 articles) and is intended as an area history source for students.

Copyright 1998-2018 by W. T. Block. All rights reserved.
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